Chocolate and Orange, Together Forever – Doctored Up Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

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Beautiful chocolate and orange above the fold? Do I have your attention? Good.

There is a well-established precedent here on this blog that I believe that chocolate + orange = holidays. Therefore, Christmas dinner this year required for me to get up early to make a decadent chocolate and orange treat for everyone to enjoy after the long day’s festivities.

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Cue Joy the Baker‘s Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake. (By the by, the photos here were taken by multiple people, none of which were me, on various phones and cameras whilst I flitted about the kitchen wearing an owl apron and a super serious face.)

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This cake, by itself, is pretty damn delicious, but this was Christmas, dammit. Game had to be stepped up. First addition? I poked holes all over the beautiful finished and cooled cake and brushed fresh squeezed orange juice (from the lonely little orange that you zest and then ignore to make the cake) all over the cake, letting it soak in.

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See? Super serious business here.

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If you’ve got tiny bits of orange pulp all over the outside of your cake, you’re doing everything right. In life and in baking.

Second addition? Get out your favorite chocolate ganache recipe. Don’t have one? Betty does, and it’s pretty great.

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Pour it all over that cooled orange-drenched cake (with aluminum foil cake stand protectors, of course), and then admire it for a second.

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Then spread things out a bit with a spatula. Did you start to smile? Stop that. Baking is a serious business.

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Now, we haven’t even eaten dinner yet, so we can’t dig into this cake. Besides, ganache (which WordPress doesn’t believe is a real word, by the way) needs to set, which is a cruel, but necessary, step. What do we do while we’re in that weird between-time when we can’t eat dinner or dessert yet?

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Well, in my family, you make more dessert, apparently.

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Super basic roll-out sugar cookies, again from Lady Betty.  Cookie cutters from my awesome friends Brittany and Michele made their inaugural sugar cookie appearance.

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You may think that bunnies don’t belong on a Christmas cookie plate. You are wrong.

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I don’t know why I wanted to include this one, but I really like this picture somehow. I feel as though those cookies are cowering in fear from my threatening cookie-eating presence. They are right to fear.

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After dinner, all kinds of royal icing happened.

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Again, no smiling allowed. Decorating sugar cookies with icing, candies, and sprinkles requires extreme concentration from all involved.

We made approximately 800,000 cookies. Here are a few highlights.

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The kitchen counter got a little crowded.

After all that hard work decorating, it was time for cake!

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It was worth the wait.

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I feel like this would be even better in mini-Bundt size, where you can get an even more favorable ganache-to-cake ratio. It’s all about the balance between the floral, tangy orange and the creamy semisweet chocolate. And then overloading it with a whole bunch more chocolate.

Year-end roundup is not over yet! Remember when I said something about bunnies being involved? Those cookie cutters didn’t count. We’ve got way more bunny goodness coming up. I am still excited about it, and it’s already over. That’s saying something.

Eat It by the Handful – Orange Cranberry Granola

Granola is a big deal in my house.

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Whenever granola gets made, granola gets eaten at alarming rates, usually just in handfuls while standing in the kitchen when deciding what else to eat.

I started musing out loud about different kinds of granola to make, and Dan only made the specification of “no chocolate,” so the granola world was my oyster. What says summertime? What says sweet and tart and midday snacks?

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Orange and cranberry? I think so, too!

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This one starts out fairly similarly to my Orange Chocolate Granola, heaping together all kinds of oats, nuts, and orange zest, plus the addition of fresh-squeezed-orange-juice-soaked dried cranberries.

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Hot damn.

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Doesn’t that look like something delicious you’d find professionally available for sale in a Whole Foods bulk bin? Is that weird that that’s my basis for pride?

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Resist the urge to shove your face into the hot melted butter-sugar-honey goodness. It’ll be delicious, but extremely burn-y.

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Bake it up and feel proud of yourself.

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Orange Cranberry Granola

4 cups oats
1 cup whole raw almonds
1 cup sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
zest from 2 large oranges (approx. 2 tbsp.)

juice from 1 large orange
1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 1/2 tbsp. butter
scant 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Zest both oranges, and set zest aside. Juice one orange (and save the other orange in the refrigerator for a refreshingly cold summer snack later after you come in from the garden). Place the dried cranberries in a small bowl with the orange juice (so that the berries are completely covered with delicious juice), and allow the cranberries to soak for 20-30 minutes while you combine the other ingredients.

Put all ingredients from oats to orange zest in a large bowl. Drain the cranberries and add to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and make sure that everything is well-distributed.

Heat the butter, vegetable oil, honey, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Allow mixture to briefly come to a boil and then remove from heat. We want to make sure that everything’s slightly caramel-y so that our granola isn’t too soft from the orange oil. Add the vanilla extract after you’re done with the heat and mix well.

Pour the butter and sugar mixture over the oats and mix well with a rubber spatula, making sure to get everything completely covered with sugar.

Spread the mixture evenly in a thin layer over both cookie sheets. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring twice during baking time to prevent scorching.

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Allow granola to cool completely on the cookie sheets and then break apart. Put in an airtight container with a lid that allows for easy snacking during your kitchen indecisiveness time. It’s awesome.

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Soaking the cranberries not only prevents them from scorching in the oven, but also gives it that super orange zesty kick every time you come upon one of those delicious tarty morsels. It’s like eating an orange cranberry muffin, but super toasty and crunchy. I had some for breakfast this morning with some vanilla yogurt, and I think that if you do the same, you’ll be a happy, satisfied person for at least 20 minutes, I promise you. Possibly for the entire morning. And then the whole rest of the day. It’s highly likely.